Apprentice Figueroa’s 15 Winners Earn Riding Title At Los Alamitos

by | 09.24.2018 | 5:31pm
Rockingham Ranch's Kim K and jockey Heriberto Figueroa win the $100,000 Barretts Debutante, Saturday, September 15, 2018 at Los Alamitos Race Course, Cypress CA.© BENOIT PHOTO

Apprentice jockey Heriberto Figueroa earned his second consecutive Los Alamitos riding title while Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and Peter Miller shared training honors as the Los Angeles County Fair meet concluded Sunday.

The 12-day season was highlighted by an 80-1 upset by Shades of Victory in the E.B. Johnston Stakes, an impressive return for Gas Station Sushi in the Beverly J. Lewis, a first Los Alamitos stakes win for Figueroa with Kim K in the Barretts Debutante, a stylish debut score by Galilean in the Barretts Juvenile and a 16th daytime thoroughbred stakes success for Baffert with favored Dabster in the inaugural Los Alamitos Special.

The 18-year-old Figueroa, who was co-leader with fellow apprentice Assael Espinoza at the Summer Thoroughbred Festival earlier in the year, finished the LACF meet with 15 victories, two more than Espinoza and four ahead of Tiago Pereira.

Baffert and Miller finished with six victories. The title was the seventh Baffert has either shared or won outright at Los Alamitos since daytime thoroughbred racing returned in July, 2014. It was the third Miller has either shared or won outright.

A 4-year-old son of Thorn Song, Shades of Victory, who was claimed for $12,500 by owner-trainer Reed Saldana April 7 at Golden Gate Fields, led throughout in the Sept. 8 Johnston, holding off B Squared by a head with favored Edwards Going Left another head back in third.

The win mutuel of $162.60 was the second largest since daytime thoroughbred racing returned to Los Alamitos in July, 2014, surpassed only by Devils Triangle, who paid $185.80 Dec. 11, 2016.

Shades of Victory's shocking upset also triggered a record daily double payoff. His win was followed by an 18-1 surprise by Marrazano and the $2 double coupling those two was worth $5,223.60.

Making her first start in four months, favored Gas Station Sushi cruised to a six-length victory in the Lewis for a partnership that includes Riley Racing Stables LLC and Tiger Racing Stable and trainer Richard Baltas. With the score under jockey Mario Gutierrez, the Into Mischief filly may have earned a return trip to Keeneland for the Grade II, $250,000 Lexus Raven Run at seven furlongs. Gas Station Sushi is 1-for-1 at the Lexington track, having captured the Grade III Beaumont April 8.

Figueroa, 18, guided Kim K, a maiden who had finished fifth in her Sept. 2 debut, to a three-length victory in the Sept. 15 Debutante for Miller and Gary Hartunian's Rockingham Ranch.

A $600,000 purchase at the Barretts sale in April by a partnership that includes West Point Thoroughbreds, Galilean pressed a quick pace and held off Seven Scents to win by a neck in the Juvenile. Drayden Van Dyke rode the son of Uncle Mo for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Stretching to 10 furlongs for the first time in his career, Dabster, the 8-5 choice, prevailed by two lengths and completed the distance in 2:00.45. The final time was a track record, but 10 furlongs had been run only once previously at Los Alamitos. Wings of Mojave scored in 2:03.57 Sept. 13, 2015.

Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, Dabster, by virtue of his Sept. 16 win, may have earned himself a start in the Grade II Marathon Stakes Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs.

In terms of business, all sources handle for the 12-day LACF season increased 5% over the 2017 meet.

Thoroughbred racing will return to Los Alamitos Thursday, Dec. 6 with the start of the eight-day Winter meet.

Racing will be conducted on a Thursday-Sunday basis through Sunday, Dec. 16. The season will be highlighted by a pair of Grade I races for 2-year-olds – the $300,000 Starlet for fillies and the $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity. Both will be run Saturday, Dec. 8.

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